Way back in 2009 I wrote about the costs of the Auckland “supercity” integration:
How much is that doggie in the window?
Here’s one significant cost that may well have been underestimated so far – the costs of integrating the disparate information systems of the current councils:
Merging council IT systems to create an Auckland “supercity” will cost the best part of $200 million and could take eight years to complete, according to consultancy firm Deloitte. …
Aucklanders will be paying for this for a long time before they see benefits, if any, and the government is at the very least negligent in being unable to say what the reorganisation is going to cost ratepayers.
By 2011 the cost estimates had more than doubled. I wrote:
Aucklanders to pay for Nats’ negligence
Auckland ratepayers are going to be stuck with a huge bill for the Nats’ failure to properly cost the Supercity merger process. Specifically in this case, the cost of merging the IT systems.
Well now the estimates are in. A unified Auckland IT infrastructure is going to cost more than half a billion dollars over eight years, and $300 million of this has not been budgeted for. Bernard Orsman sets out the facts in The Herald. But the usually moderate Russell Brown steps up and says what a lot of Aucklanders will be thinking:
Someone has to be accountable for this
It will cost the Auckland Council more than half a billion dollars over eight years to build new computer systems to conduct its business — and a staggering $300 million of that had not been budgeted.
Someone has to be accountable for this. And we, as ratepayers, also deserve to know what the authority, the minister, the Department of Internal Affairs, Cabinet and the Prime Minister knew about the real costs that were stacked up by an unelected body last year. And if it transpires that any or all of those parties knew that the costs would be far in excess of what we were told, then there is only one way of characterising what happened.
We were lied to.
National either failed to cost this properly, or hid the costs while trying to make the case for the “cost savings” of the supercity. And now in 2016 we get an update on the state of play from Bernard Orsman:
Council’s $1b in IT costs ‘wasted’
The Super City has spent $1.24 billion on IT since it was formed in 2010 – enough money to pay for the council’s half share of the $2.5 billion city rail link.
Among the benefits, Aucklanders can now register dogs online and access nearly 100,000 e-books, but most online experiences with council are still a grind.
Critics claim the decision by the Auckland Transition Agency to largely build a new system from scratch for Auckland Council was never properly evaluated.
Councillor Mike Lee said the $1.2 billion figure showed a bigger scandal than he had suspected. “There is so much good we could have done with that sort of money but most of it has been wasted.”
So from National’s initial $200 million estimate the actual costs are at least six times higher – and the job isn’t done yet. The real costs significantly alter the economic case that was made for the supercity merger. Was National’s estimate deliberately wrong, or was it just incompetent?